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Good Samaritans Volunteers Helping Victims Program Handbook and Training Guide
Top navigation About This Guide Message From the Director Acknowledgments About the Authors Related Links
Photo: Man and woman looking out of a broken window.

Publication Date: April 2009

minus iconFilling a Void—Origins of the Program
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minus iconVolunteers: Recruiting,
Screening, and Training

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Module 2: The Victim Experience
minus iconModule 3: Basic Skills for Volunteers
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Module 2: The Victim Experience

The Road to "Normal": Stages of the Victim Experience

I. SHOCK/DISBELIEF (Immediately afterward and up to 1 week later)

    Physical Reactions

      Shock—Loss of concentration, blood pressure fluctuations, rapid pulse, pallor, etc.
      Disturbances in patterns of sleeping or eating
      Difficulty concentrating

    Emotional Styles

      Controlled—Flat, emotionless, calm, composed, numb (internalized)
      Expressive—Upset, nervous, angry, anxious, tense, fearful (externalized)


      Medical—Physical injuries or preexisting conditions
      Emotional—Fear, helplessness, denial, guilt, degradation, anger, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue, loss of concentration


      Tries to block memories
      Tries to "undo" the crime
      Thinks about it frequently
      Unable to cope or understand the experience

II. OUTWARD ADJUSTMENT (Up to 1 year later)

    Physical Reactions

      Psychosomatic complaints

    Emotional Styles

      Denial or avoidance
      Does not want to talk or think about the incident


III. REORGANIZATION (1 year or more afterward)

    Physical Reactions

      Possible increase in health problems or alcohol and drug abuse


      Fear of crowds or people in general, fear of being alone, of sleeping, or of situations that remind the victim of the crime


      Trades freedom for security
      Normal routine upset
      Level of functioning reduced
      Avoids leaving home
      Drops out of school, absent from work
      Avoids or clings to family and friends
      Changes home, job, or telephone number
      Strong need for a change of scenery or to "get away"
      Family conflicts
      Feeling of loss of support from intimates, violated trust
      Feeling of loss of privacy
      Angry at loss of freedom


    General Condition

      Feels safe and in control again
      Able to trust again
      Free from fear
      Blames criminal, not self
      Feels "normal" again
      Expresses and resolves anger

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